Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, it belongs to a genus where most, if not all members of the genus produce hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. This toxin is found mainly in the leaves and seed and is readily detected by its bitter taste. It is usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm but any very bitter seed or fruit should not be eaten. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.
The fruit is probably edible when fully ripe but should not be eaten if it is bitter because this bitterness is caused by the presence of toxic compounds, see the notes above on toxicity[K]. The fruit is about 8mm in diameter and contains one large seed
Seed - raw or cooked. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter - see the notes above on toxicity.
A very good plant for a low windbreak
. It is also used as a medium to tall hedge and for topiary
A green dye can be obtained from the leaves.
A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit
Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, all members of the genus contain amygdalin and prunasin, substances which break down in water to form hydrocyanic acid (cyanide or prussic acid). In small amounts this exceedingly poisonous compound stimulates respiration, improves digestion and gives a sense of well-being
There are no medicinal uses listed for Prunus lusitanica.
Seed - requires 2 - 3 months cold stratification and is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe
. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible
. Protect the seed from mice etc. The seed can be rather slow, sometimes taking 18 months to germinate
. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in a greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter and plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, July/August in a frame.
Cuttings of mature wood, October in a sheltered north facing border outdoors.
Layering in spring.
Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Prunus lusitanica. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.
Succeeds on all soil types
, though it prefers a well-drained moisture-retentive loamy soil
. Prefers some lime in the soil but is likely to become chlorotic if too much lime is present
. Thrives on chalk according to other reports
. Succeeds in sun or partial shade though it fruits better in a sunny position
Hardy to about -20°c.
A very ornamental plant, there are some named varieties selected for their ornamental value. Grows well in a woodland.
Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged.
Plants are susceptible to silver leaf disease. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus.
The flowers are pleasantly scented.
Any trimming is best done with secateurs in August
. Plants are very tolerant of pruning.
Problems, pests & diseases
Associations & Interactions
There are no interactions listed for Prunus lusitanica. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.
Polycultures & Guilds
There are no polycultures listed which include Prunus lusitanica.
This table shows all the data stored for this plant.
Material uses & Functions
Native Climate Zones
Adapted Climate Zones
Native Geographical Range
Root Zone Tendancy
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? 6.06.16.2 Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
? 7.07.1 Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W. The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation. Athens Ga. Varsity Press ISBN 0942375009 (1987-00-00)
? 8.08.18.28.38.4 Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (1981-00-00)
? 9.09.1 Knight. F. P. Plants for Shade. Royal Horticultural Society. ISBN 0-900629-78-9 (1980-00-00)
? 10.010.1 F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
? Gordon. A. G. and Rowe. D. C. f. Seed Manual for Ornamental Trees and Shrubs. ()
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